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figure 3.23c. Third position for the peacock, with weight supported only between the feet and the hands.

only

[■Rure 3.23d. Peacock posture completed. As the weight tomes further forward, e forearm flexors lengthen eccentrically to support the posture.

176 /l/VWMM OF HATHA YOGA

to one side, usually as the weaker arm slips off the abdomen; or your m or pathways may just deliver up a resounding objection because they sen at some level that you will not have the strength to support the final post re. In this last case students often do something silly, like tossing their >et into the air as if they were trying to levitate. Their feet, of course, fall iek to earth just like anything else that is tossed in the air. You can comj te this posture, at least using the approach described here, only by brin ng your weight forward.

A successful peacock pose depends to a great extent on your body pe and weight distribution. If you have a big chest and small hips and th ;hs the bulk of your weight will be forward and you will not have to exteni he elbows a lot to complete the posture. But if you have a small chest, big ¿s, and heavy thighs and legs, a greater proportion of your weight will to the rear and you will have to extend your elbows more fully. As you do iat, however, the forearm flexors start losing their mechanical advantage ind the pose becomes more difficult to complete and hold. This is easy to | ve. If it happens that you can complete the posture easily you'll not hav( iny trouble supporting a 25-pound weight on your midback without addit nal extension of the elbows. But if someone were to place a 5-pound weigl on your feet, the increased elbow extension needed to bring your weight for ird to a point of balance will probably drop you to the floor like lead.

It is commonly said that the peacock is more difficult for women tan for men because they have less upper body strength, but the main n -on that women have more difficulty is that a greater proportion of eir weight is distributed in the lower half of the body. It follows, then, th to make the posture easier, all they need to do is to fold in some of their 1 .er body weight. The classic solution: do the posture with the legs folded in the lotus pose so the elbows will not have to extend as much to suppt it-This is possible, of course, only if you are comfortable in the lotus.

The peacock develops more intra-abdominal pressure than any < ier posture because the abdominopelvic unit (which is bounded by the respir oiy diaphragm, the pelvic diaphragm, and the abdominal muscles) is sup >rt-ing the weight of the body through the elbows and arms. And becausi he diaphragm is working so hard, you can breathe only under du 'ss. Nevertheless, you should always keep breathing. It is tempting to hoi he glottis shut and equalize intra-abdominal pressure with intrathoracic ) t,s" sure, but that is impractical because you can hold your breath for on long. In addition, the substantial increase in intrathoracic pressure c ild be dangerous to the heart and circulation. It is much better to keep the if' way open and limit the increase in pressure to the abdominopelvic ca- ty. Obviously the peacock is only for those who are in splendid athl tic condition.

.}. ABnOMfoOPUYlL EXERCISES 177

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